The pig sty and feed store roof is on! Terry had already removed the old roof and stabilised the structure so yesterday afternoon he called for me to assist him in lifting and fitting the ridge and plates. I got with the program pretty smartish and donned thermals and an impressive numbers of layers before sallying forth into the sunny but brisk day. Whilst Terry stayed to cement in the plates I returned to the questionable joy of minutely dusting and hoovering every single piece of wood upstairs from the purlings down and with only the hose of the vacuum cleaner as a tool. It is a grindingly boring process. The wood has to clean before we apply PVA glue twice with sanding after each application and before the varnish. Only another two of these surgical clean operations to go then! Terry joined me later and we started the first run of PVA on the wood and called it a day.
The following day after breakfast Terry donned an extra layer to his work ensemble and with the help of a friend, in quick succession proceeded to cut and lay the rafters, use the off cuts of EPS polystyrene from the house to insulate, off cuts of membrane and lay baton before the old roof tiles and new ridge tiles were recycled and laid on the roof of the pig sty. Terry adopted the Bulgarian tradition of laying tiles against the wall as a form of flashing for off runs of water. Ilia and his herd of sheep tinkled down the lane and from my lofty heights I watched him look over the garden wall at the pigsty proceedings and engage Terry and his friend in conversation. Terry later revealed that he’d said “you’ll be buying them toys next”. This from a man in his 60’s, out in -3 degrees with horrendously swollen knees grazing his sheep so they don’t get barn bound! He’s such a cantankerous old sod because what Terry didn’t see after this exchange was that, as he turned his back on Terry, Ilia was full frontal to me. I saw his face was cracked wide open from his own joke and he chortled as he meandered off down the lane.
The second coat of PVA has been applied and the first coat of varnish will be going down tomorrow evening and 2 further coats on successive nights. We went on to dismantle most of what will become the dining room but currently holds our bed, 3 wooden chests, the 2nd fridge, a chest freezer, a shoe rack, 3 rather posh paper carriers with our good shoes, an overly large bedroom mirror, 2 bedside cabinets and any number of containers under the bed. Oh and a small beverage station on top of the chest freezer for when it’s literally freezing outside and the short and baltic walk to the summer kitchen is a pointless exercise. The cups are so cold that even if I warm them the drinks are luke warm before I arrive back at the sitting room. Cooking a meal in the external summer kitchen isn’t too bad because the gas burners warm the room quite quickly but as the kitchen itself is unheated and uninsulated the walls sweat almost immediately. This requires the window to be cracked. There is a reason why this is called a summer kitchen. We’ve discussed setting up a temporary kitchen in one of the unrenovated rooms in the house if the situation becomes untenable. We’ve also switched to having our main meal at lunch time when the temperatures are much higher. I tell myself that this time next year the kitchen in the main house will be ready. The summer kitchen, my little zesty green creative studio is remarkably well equipped and functional for its size. This time next year it will have been insulated and rendered and the flat concrete roof will have been tiled.
The reason for dismantling the contents of the would be dining room is that we are replacing the plasterboard ceiling following the “ingress of water” disaster of the summer. This was followed a month later with ‘RSJgate’. I returned home from a market trip to find Terry, Paul and Ian looking a bit sheepish. I wasn’t called dilly daydream as a girl without reason. Apparently I walked past a gaping hole in the dining room wall with chunks of wall hanging from the electric cables underneath. Let’s not mention the debris on the bed and our new mattress. Terry took the bull by the horns and dropped the following sentence on me before walking swiftly out. “You’ll need to tidy the bedroom”. Paul and Ian went smartly in his wake. My expletives and very unseemly turns of phrase must have been heard outside because when I walked out in their wake they were nervously huddled under the gazebo looking pensive. WTAF was the precised version of the expression I used. Terry matter of factly told me that during the fitting of the steel in the bathroom there had been a miscalculation and the steel was about 10 cm longer than the space needed to house it. Rather than remove the steel he felt it would be easier to drill a hole in the wall to accommodate the steel. I don’t thing there is much more that needs to be explained here!
The plasterboard ceiling of the dining room has been replaced and the damage by “RSJgate” has now been filled.
We are also going to be laying wooden floorboards before redecorating and returning the room to it’s actual purpose. Terry, in his eternally optimistic way, informs me this will have been done before the 20th December when Amalia arrives. It will be lovely to have another room to use and we’re looking forward to getting some of our furniture in too. There has also been talk of making the plank bed for our bedroom. As I write this I wonder if that is at all possible? Having spent the day outside sanding down doors in 18 degrees of glorious sunshine I present a photo of Terry who walked out on my final rub down of the door and took up the reins!
It’s 7am on a snowy Tuesday morning and we’ve been up 2 hours. We have gone from wall to wall sunshine to snow! We should have stayed in bed because the power went down. It has just flickered back into action. We are not quite where we wanted to be – oh the electric is down again – but we have completed a remarkable amount. Let me bore you with the details. The upstairs is fully varnished. The bed and bedside cabinets, off our own-ish design are made and awaiting sanding and oiling. We both chose these designs but is was Terry who made and put them together with my assistance. We’re both particularly proud of our bespoke furniture!
The door to the pig sty and store room are on as is the guttering. As the image shows it still needs some modifications but in it’s basic state it is pig ready. Of the 3 doors we’ve recycled for use in hallway 1 is almost completely stripped of paint, 1 is halfway there and 1 remains untouched.
We have emptied, at the expense of the garden, the 3 room in upstairs of the old house. This included the box to every single appliance we’ve ever bought in Bulgaria, quite a lot of packing boxes, a bath and shower unit, 2 arm chairs, 2 rolls of pig wire and mesh wire, EPS insulation sheets, and every single one of the old wooden windows and doors original to the house. We try to keep continuity between old and new so these doors and windows will be repurposed into a green house stroke potting shed.
We then sorted through what will be the kitchen downstairs and repacked and sorted the absolutely chaotic melange of boxes until we had nice neat piles in the newly emptied upstairs. It is the first time that we’ve been able to see the rooms empty since we moved in. Everything except the walls and roof will be coming down next year, including a rebuild of the Inglenook chimney breast. But even now in its very primitive state the space has a lovely light feel. There are 2 double rooms, a third which will become a wet room and a hallway that will house the stairs but also lead out onto a proposed large wooden balcony. The original and beautiful beams will be left in situ unless damaged. What will be the main kitchen, entrance hall and storage room of the old house are all partially submerged so that when I look out of the kitchen window out onto the garden my view starts at the pathway and then fans out to where we site the gazebo, on up past the well and to the walnut tree at the end of the garden. These partially submerged rooms provide cooler temperature in the summer and warmer in the winter.
Terry uncovered an old ripped family photograph in the wardrobe and was about to throw it out till I caught him. I’m going to frame it in one of the old window frames for a feeling of providence. I’ve also squirrelled away an old rent book from during the Communist era. This too is going to be framed. Aha the light is back on! We are hoping to fill the joins in the plasterboard and begin laying the framework for the dining room flooring today. Let’s hope the power stays on. We have also made a decision on the wooden structure in the garden. Now we know it is a drying tower for anything from hay to corn. We’ll be retiling it in the spring and netting the inside because I see great potential for drying our home grown produce next year.